Consciousness – the awareness we have of our self and surroundings – is often referred to as ‘the hard problem’. It’s not easy to scientifically explain how a subjective experience, which is something intangible, can be created by the brain – a physical object. But understanding more about how consciousness works could help us find treatments when things go wrong.
Tiny vehicles up to 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair that are cloaked in biological camouflage could provide new ways of treating cancer with fewer side-effects.
Paolo Sanvito would often freeze like a statue after entering a meeting room when he was working as a manager in a multinational company. Known as freezing of gait, it’s a disabling symptom of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder that he suffers from.
If you think that the key to beating antibiotic resistance is only for doctors to prescribe less and scientists to find new drug candidates, you are probably wrong. The fundamental solutions may lie far from medicine – in managing our rivers and soils.
New insights into how tardigrades survive extremely dry environments could reveal new ways of preserving drugs, boosting crops’ tolerance to drought or fighting disease, but so far there is no simple answer to how these tiny creatures endure desiccation.
Decoding how the human egg matures and how this process can go wrong could lead to ways of preventing genetic errors leading to infertility, birth defects or pregnancy loss.
New weapons are needed to fight drug-resistant bacteria, one of the biggest threats to global health. By working on new antibiotics or finding ways to revive existing ones in our medical arsenal, scientists aim to avoid a return to a world where even everyday infections may mean death.
As the global antibiotic resistance crisis grows, chemical-based aerosol sprays and electrical signals to wake up the immune system are being developed to treat cow infections. These non-antibiotic therapies for livestock could also help to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance through the human food chain.
Virtual simulations can also help build aeroplane wings more efficiently.
Understanding consciousness in healthy people could help when things go wrong.
Dr Michaël Gillon on what's next for exoplanet science.